Also known as conjunctivitis, pink eye is caused by an inflammation of the thin, clear tissue that lines the inside of the eyelid (called the conjunctiva). The conjunctival blood vessels dilate with the inflammation, which is why the eye looks reddish (hence “pink eye”).
Pink eye is itchy and painful. The eye also tears excessively, or produces a discharge that hardens during sleep. The other symptoms to look out for are:
- Painful or itchy eyes
- Excessive tears
- Thick, yellow (can also be green or white) discharge that crusts and shuts your eye when you wake up
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to bright lights
- Swelling of the conjunctiva
- A gritty feeling in the eye
- Swelling of the lymph node in front of the ear
Note that not all red, irritated, or swollen eyes are cases of conjunctivitis. Some of them can simply be caused by seasonal allergies or other conditions such as sty, iritis, or chalazion. While the latter conditions are not contagious, it’s important to find out what is causing your symptoms so that you can receive medication if necessary and avoid potentially passing your condition along to others.
The common causes of conjunctivitis or pink eye are:
- Viral infection – usually caused by adenovirus and herpesvirus; may also occur if the person has an upper respiratory tract infection or sore throat
- Bacterial infection – usually caused by Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumonia, or Haemophilus
- Allergic reaction to pollen, dust mites, animal dander, and molds
- Exposure to certain irritants such as shampoo, cosmetic ingredients, contact lens solutions, certain eye drops, swimming pool chlorine, smoke, and smog
Depending on the cause or severity, pink eye will likely require treatment to relieve symptoms. Visit ModernMD if you think you may have pink eye to feel better, faster!
Pink eye is very common in places where people live, play, or work closely with each other or those where people use equipment, such as students, teachers, school workers because it is highly contagious, especially bacterial and viral conjunctivitis. If you or a family member has conjunctivitis, follow these tips to limit its spread:
- Wash your hands properly and frequently with soap and warm water. Use an alcohol-based sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) if soap is not available.
- Do not touch or rub your eyes.
- Never share washcloths, towels, pillowcases, blankets.
- Always keep your eyeglasses clean.
- Ensure that your contact lenses are cleaned, stored, and replaced as instructed by your eye doctor.
- Never ever wear and share makeup, makeup brushes, eyeglasses, or contact lenses.
- Do not reuse contact lenses, contact lens solution, makeup, and any applicator you used when you had the infection. It’s best to throw them away.
- Keep surfaces such as bathroom vanities, kitchen countertops, doorknobs, faucet handles, phones clean. Use an antiseptic cleaner.
- Stay home until your symptoms are gone to avoid spreading it to others
If you experience any of the following, we suggest that you visit your nearest ModernMD clinic for immediate medical attention.
- Impaired or blurry vision
- Moderate to severe redness
- Moderate to severe itchiness
- Moderate to severe pain in the infected dye
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